Connect with us


Google at I/O 2023: we’re doing AI before it was cool



Increase / Google CEO Sundar Pichai explains some of the company’s many new AI models.


That Google I/O show was something special, wasn’t it? It was two hours of non-stop talking about AI without a break. Bard, Palm, Duet, Unicorn, Gecko, Gemini, Tailwind, Otter – there were so many cryptic AI codenames around that it was hard to keep track of what Google was talking about. A glossary would really help. The highlight was, of course, the hardware, but even that was talked about as an AI delivery system.

Google is in the midst of an all-out panic over the rise of OpenAI and its flagship product ChatGPT, which has roiled Wall Street and could potentially steal some of the queries people typically type on This is an awkward situation for Google, especially for its CEO Sundar Pichai, who Mantra “AI First” It’s been about seven years now and he has nothing much to show. Google has been trying to get consumers interested in AI for years, but people only seemed to care about it after someone other than Google took a swing at it.

Even more embarrassing, ChatGPT’s growth has been powered by Google technology. The “T” in “ChatGPT” means “transducer”, a neural network method. Google invented in 2017 and never commercialized. OpenAI has taken Google’s public research, created a product based on it, and is now using that product to threaten Google.

A few months before the I/O, Pichai issued a “Code Red” warning across the company, stating that ChatGPT is something Google needs to fight and even pulled its co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, out of retirement to help out. A few years ago, Google panicked about Facebook and required all employees to create social features in existing Google apps. And while it was a widely hated initiative that ultimately failed, Google is dusting off this Google+ tutorial to fight OpenAI. All employees are now reportedly required to embed some sort of AI feature into every Google product.

“Mandatory AI” is certainly what Google I/O felt. In each section of the presentation, a division of Google presented a book report on the New AI Thing that they had been working on for the past six months. Google I/O was more like a presentation to Google managers than a show meant to excite developers and consumers. The AI ​​directive led to ridiculous situations, such as when the head of Android development came on stage to talk only about the AI-powered emoji wallpaper generator, not about any significant OS improvements.

Wall Street investors seemed to be one group excited about the Google I/O stock. jumped 4 percent after the show. Maybe that was the point of it all.

An AI show without mentioning Google Assistant?

Would you believe that Google Assistant got zero mentions on Google I/O? This show was all about AI, and Google didn’t mention its biggest AI product yet. Pichai Seminary AI First Blog Post since 2016 O Google Assistant and has an image of Pichai in front of the Google Assistant logo. Google highlighted past AI projects such as Gmail’s Smart Reply and Smart Compose, Google Photos’ magic eraser and AI-powered search, Deepmind’s AlphaGo and Google Lens, but Google Assistant couldn’t process a single mention. It seemed completely on purpose.

Heck, Google has unveiled a product that’s a continuation of the Nest Hub Google Assistant’s smart display — the Pixel Tablet — and Google Assistant. quiet couldn’t get a mention. At one pointthe host even said that the Pixel Tablet has a “voice assistant”.

Increase / Headline from Google’s “AI first” blog post from 2016, showing Pichai in front of the Google Assistant logo. Then AI = Google Assistant.


The avoidance of Google Assistant for I/O seemed like a further de-prioritization of what used to be its AI staple. The last major product launch with Assistant speaker/display was two years ago in March 2021. Google has since shipped hardware where Assistant support has been dropped from Nest Wi-Fi and Fitbitand this disabled helper commands on Weiss. The company lost a patent case to Sonos and removed key speaker features such as volume control from its broadcast function. Driving mode assistant malfunction in 2022, and one of the Assistant’s most important features, reminders, is being closed in favor of Google Task Reminders.

It looks like the Pixel Tablet was supposed to be the new Google Assistant device as it looks exactly like all other Google Assistant devices, but Google shipped it without a dedicated smart display interface. This appears to have been conceived when the Assistant was a viable product at Google, and then shipped as leftover hardware when the Assistant fell out of favor.

The Google Assistant team has reportedly been asked to stop working on their own product and focus on improving Bard. The assistant never really made any money in his seven years; all hardware is sold at cost, voice recognition servers are expensive to run, and the assistant has no viable after-sales revenue streams such as advertising. Oddly enough, it seems that the power of these voice recognition servers is being turned off, as recently it takes a few seconds to process assistant commands.


This little boy from Cuba received the first approved gene therapy to treat skin conditions.



“I think it’s really interesting, but I’m worried about how long the treatment will last,” says Denica Milanova, founder of Marble Therapeutics, a Boston-based startup that also does gene therapy. She says collagen forms fibers in the skin that last about two or three months.

Milanova also believes that the ointment only works because it is applied to raw wounds, where the underlying layers, including skin stem cells, are exposed and can take on new genes. “But you can’t rub it on healthy skin, it won’t work,” she says. This is because normal skin acts as a barrier, a fact that may explain why in Krystal’s anti-wrinkle tests, her gene therapy is injected into the skin with a needle.

herpes virus

Scientists now have a plethora of tools to manipulate genes in their labs, where fixing cells in a dish or even treating mice for lethal conditions is commonplace. But the problem with treating people is that it’s harder for them to get the corrected DNA into their bodies, a problem known as gene delivery.

Krystal is among dozens of companies looking for innovative ways to deliver replacement genes to more places in the human body, including hard-to-reach organs like the brain.

“Delivery is the most important factor in genetic medicine,” says Max Chatsko, founder of Solt DB, a publishing and investment analytics company that also buys and sells biotech stocks (including Krystal). “I think this could eventually be the first dose of gene therapy that people take at home.”

Delivery of a gene typically involves placing a strand of DNA inside a virus naturally adapted to enter a human cell and release the gene. In Crystal’s case, the company uses the herpes simplex virus, the same virus that causes cold sores.

HSV-1, as the virus is known, is very common – about half of the people in the world are infected with it. This means that it is quite safe, but it also has the advantage that it naturally eludes the immune system. Krishnan says this property allows the drug to be used multiple times without causing negative reactions.

While the startup was successful, Chatsko says there was also some controversy over how he stumbled upon his strategy. In 2022, Krystal agreed to pay up to $75 million to another startup, PeriphaGen, which accused Krishnan and company steal his ideas and technologies.

Continue Reading


Neeva, once a promising competitor to Google Search, is shutting down



Neeva, which for a while looked like one of the startups with a real chance to challenge the supremacy of Google Search, announced on Saturday that it was shutting down its search engine. The company says it is moving to artificial intelligence and could be acquired by Snowflake. information informed — but mostly seems to think it failed.

“Building search engines is hard,” Neeva co-founders Sridhar Ramaswami and Vivek Raghunathan wrote in blog post announcing the closure. (Ramaswami, in particular, is one reason Niva seemed promising—as a longtime head of Google’s advertising business, few people are better equipped to know how to build and monetize search than he is.) But Niva did it, they say. He built a good, competitive search engine. In fact, it was way ahead of Google in some respects, such as replacing 10 blue links with a more descriptive page and emphasizing human-generated content.

But building the search engine was actually the easy part. “During this journey, we discovered that building a search engine is one thing, and persuading ordinary users to choose the best option is one thing,” continued Ramaswami and Raghunathan.

Building the search engine was actually the easy part

I’ve spoken to Neeva’s co-founders several times over the past couple of years, and the list of complaints here is long and well-founded. They’ve had to contend with billions of dollars of deals that Google is signing up to make itself the default search engine on all devices; a huge “Are you sure you want to change?” pop-ups that appear whenever you try to set a new browser or default search engine; the difficulty of finding these settings in the first place; clutter in the Chrome Web Store; on and on and on. Anyone trying to create a new search engine is fighting a very uphill battle.

Neeva was also a paid product as the company tried to prove its business model for search other than ads and surveillance. “Contrary to popular belief,” the co-founders wrote on their blog, “convincing users to pay for a better experience was actually less of a challenge than getting them to try a new search engine.” Add to this the tough economic situation, and Niva simply does not see a way to develop the business.

The time here is really interesting. Neeva is shutting down, perhaps at the best time in two decades for upstart search engines. Users getting more and more bored with the ad load and poor quality results they get from Google, and AI-enabled chatbots like Bing and ChatGPT have upended the whole idea of ​​how to interact with the internet. Neeva has also capitalized on this by developing a large language model-based system called Neeva AI, which is more useful in many ways than what you get from Bing or Bard. But even this was not enough.

Of course, the race to beat Google is still on: Bing continues to work hard to gain market share, and Brave recently advertised that it now runs entirely on its own search stack. Companies such as and DuckDuckGo are also trying to rethink the way search works and use artificial intelligence to do this. But for now, it looks like Google’s only real competitor is, well, Google.

The Neeva search engine will be closed on June 2nd. In the future, Neeva will “switch into a new area of ​​activity” that is likely to be based on an LLM and linked to the acquisition of Snowflake. The Company will refund users for the unused portion of their Neeva subscriptions and delete all user data. “We are truly grateful to our community,” the co-founders wrote, “and we are truly sorry that we cannot continue to provide the search engine you want and deserve.”

Continue Reading


TikTok and free speech groups poised for legal battle over Montana ban



A legal battle over First Amendment rights appeared to be brewing in Montana Thursday in response to the state’s ban on TikTok from January 1, the first of its kind in the country.

The ban, signed by Governor Greg Gianforte on Wednesday, sparked outrage from TikTok, civil liberties and digital rights groups, and angry TikTok users who called it an unconstitutional violation of free speech. Montana lawmakers and Mr. Gianforte, a Republican, say the ban is necessary to prevent Americans’ personal information from falling into the hands of the Chinese government. TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.

Under the law, TikTok will be fined for using the app in the state, and app store providers such as Google and Apple will be fined if TikTok is made available for download in Montana.

On Thursday, neither TikTok nor leading civil liberties groups announced plans for a lawsuit. Brooke Oberwetter, a spokeswoman for TikTok, declined to comment on the possibility of a lawsuit by the company.

But Ms. Oberwetter said Wednesday, after the law was signed into law, that the ban violates Montana’s First Amendment rights and that the company will continue to “work to protect the rights of our users.” She said Thursday that the 2020 federal ban does not stand up to legal scrutiny and that Montana does not have a workable plan for a ban.

Ms. Oberwetter also pointed to statements by civic and digital groups expressing similar concerns.

Ramya Krishnan, a lawyer with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said the Constitution protects Americans’ right to access social media platforms of their choice. To justify the ban, Ms. Krishnan said the state of Montana would have to show that its privacy and security concerns are real and can’t be addressed in narrower ways.

“I don’t think TikTok has sued yet, but I think it will,” Ms Krishnan said. “Because this is such a dramatic and unconstitutional intrusion on Americans’ First Amendment rights, we’re certainly thinking about intervening in some way.”

NetChoice, a trade group that considers TikTok a member and has sued in the past to block state laws against tech companies, also said in a statement that the ban violates the constitution. Christa Chavez, a spokeswoman for the group, said NetChoice “does not currently plan to take legal action” to challenge the law.

Montana’s law comes after the federal government and more than two dozen states banned TikTok from government devices in recent months. Lawmakers and intelligence officials said that TikTok, due to its ownership, could put sensitive user data into the hands of the Chinese government. They also claimed that the app could be used to spread propaganda. TikTok says it has never been asked to, and has not, provided any U.S. user data to the Chinese government.

“Many have speculated that China could require ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, to hand over American data or use TikTok to spread misinformation, but neither Montana nor the US government has provided any evidence that China is actually doing this,” she said. .Krishnan said. “This is a problem because speculative damage cannot justify a total ban on a communications platform, especially one used by hundreds of thousands of Montana residents every day.”

In addition to the potential litigation, many experts have raised questions about whether the law can actually be enforced. Internet users can use virtual private network software to hide their location. People living in Montana’s border cities can access TikTok and other mobile apps through cell towers in neighboring states.

In an email, Emily Cantrell, a spokeswoman for the state’s Attorney General, said technology exists to limit the use of apps in a specific location. The method, known as geofencing, is “already used by the gaming industry,” which is also regulated by the state’s Department of Justice, Ms. Cantrell said.

“A basic web search will show you companies that enforce geolocation,” she said. If companies do not comply with the ban, they continued, the agency will “investigate and hold offenders accountable in accordance with the law.”

The legislation places the responsibility for enforcing the ban on TikTok, Apple and Google. Under the law, TikTok can be fined $10,000 for each individual violation of the ban, and an additional $10,000 each day if the violation continues. Apple and Google would face the same fines if they allowed the app to be downloaded in the state.

While the ban was being considered by the state legislature, the trade group representing Apple and Google said the companies would not be able to restrict access to the app within the same state.

“The responsibility should lie with the app to determine where it can run, not the app store,” David Edmonson, vice president of TechNet, the trade group that represents app stores, said Thursday.

Google and Apple declined to comment.

Continue Reading